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Sturgeon Week Features

Fishing WisconsinWinnebago System sturgeon spearing 2017

Big fish to date

Gerald Peterson’s 154.9-pound, 83.4-inch female is the largest fish of the season to date, both in length and weight.

February 23, 2017

 We've been running on a 1 fish/day harvest for the last 2 days, but today was zeros across the board.  There were no fish registered on the Upriver Lakes or Lake Winnebago, so harvest numbers remain the same as yesterday (552 on Lake Winnebago; 295 on Upriver Lakes; system total 847).  I heard of some folks walking out with portable shanties today, but effort remains low.  Three more days remain for the 2017 season.
Good luck to those die-hards still in search!

-- Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

Sturgeon head

A heads up to sturgeon spearers

A comprehensive aging analysis will be conducted on Winnebago system sturgeon by using the otoliths, or ear bones, of harvested sturgeon. Spearers interested in participating in the study are asked to:

  • Clean your fish as you normally would. 
  • After cleaning, place the sturgeon head in the bag provided by DNR staff at time of registration.  Retain the index card with fish ID number with the head at all times.
  • Drop off head at any DNR registration station before end of spearing season. 

Contact Ryan Koenigs with any questions: (920)303-5450;

Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing regulations 2017

The 2017 Lake Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Regulations [PDF]

2017 Lake Winnebago - as of February 23

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 0 50 344
Adult females 0 260 855
Males 0 242 976
Totals 0 552 -

2017 Upriver Lakes - as of February 23

Daily harvest Season harvest Harvest cap
Juvenile females 0


Adult females 0


Males 0 178 244


303 -

2017 Winnebago system sturgeon season summary report

Season report as of February 23, 2017 [PDF]

Tagging your sturgeon

What you need to know [PDF]

2016 Winnebago system sturgeon vignettes

Sturgeon shanty rentals

If you or someone you know rents shanties for the spearing season on Lake Winnebago and/or the Upriver Lakes, please send the contact information to Ryan Koenigs. Shanty rental information is very popular (and helpful) to first-time sturgeon spearers.

Sturgeon license sales for 2017 season

Interest in sturgeon spearing continues to be strong with 12,962 licenses sold for the 2017 season, including 12,479 for Lake Winnebago and 483 for the Upriver Lakes.

History of the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spear fishery and trends in the modern era

More information about the history of the Upriver Lakes spear fishery can be viewed in the document History of the Upriver Lakes Sturgeon Spear Fishery and Trends in the Modern Era. [PDF]

2015 sturgeon spearing season summaries

Sturgeon spearing culture

The ice-fishing season for lake sturgeon is more about getting together and fishing together than harvesting a lunker.

Sturgeon guard

There are two critical time periods for collecting data from our sturgeon population, the annual spearing season and spring spawning assessments.  Each year thousands of lake sturgeon migrate up the tributaries of the Winnebago System (Wolf, upper Fox, Embarrass and Little Wolf Rivers most notably) to spawn. The sturgeon spawn along rocky shorelines on outside river bends and literally spawn at your feet.  This provides a great opportunity to view sturgeon spawning in the wild, which is an experience not available anywhere else in North America.  However, poaching has historically been a concern given the vulnerability of these majestic fish during spawning.  The Sturgeon Guard program was implemented to curtail the illegal activity and protect these fish during spawning periods.  At first, law enforcement officers would monitor known spawning sites, but it was difficult for the warden staff to cover all of the known spawning areas with a limited work force.  The Sturgeon Guard program then went public and the rest is history.  The general public can now sign up for 12-hour shifts to watch sturgeon spawn and protect the fish from harassment and other illegal activity.  There are hundreds of folks who sign up every year for this opportunity, and this really is an example of a successful collaboration between the community and the DNR that has helped the population significantly increase!  As the spearing season draws near the end, I thought it would be beneficial to highlight a potential next opportunity for folks interested in sturgeon and that opportunity is volunteering through the Sturgeon Guard program.

Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Karl Scheidegger
Fisheries biologist
Last revised: Thursday February 23 2017